Above Photo: Brittany DeBarros is a captain in the US Army. Her quote above reflects her personal views and not those of the US military.
DOD FORMALLY APPROVES MILITARY-HOSTED IMMIGRANT CONCENTRATION CAMPS AS NON-MILITARY SITES FILL UP
The President of the United States, Donald Trump, once again declared that active duty US military personnel need to be deployed to the southern border in order to repel, “the assault on our country.” (Militarytimes.com, October 18, 2018)
October 25, 2018 update: Defense Secretary Jim Mattis today authorized 800 active-duty troops, to bolster the roughly 2,100 National Guardsmen who have already been sent to the border.
It’s easy to attack a ragtag group of immigrants, traveling in a public caravan, seeking asylum, and this kind of rhetoric plays well to his anti-immigration base, leading up to the midterm elections. However, it’s more than just rhetoric.
This summer, the Trump Administration ordered the military to detain tens of thousands of immigrants in tent cities across the United States. Eight military installations were identified, primarily those near the southern border with unused air strips. The military agreed, and the Department of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services (HHS) got onboard.
Military brass suggested that these camps would not violate the constitutional prohibition against using the military to police and enforce domestic immigration law, based on the fact that the military has occasionally provided shelter to people during humanitarian crises, for short periods of time. Apparently, because the military helped out a bit following a hurricane then long term immigrant concentration camps are just fine.
According to the Military Times (October 2, 2018), HHS has completed site surveys at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas; Goodfellow Air Force Base in San Angelo, Texas; Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas; and Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas. The Associated Press (July 31, 2018) noted that the “Defense Department has completed legal and environmental requirements needed to create housing at San Angelo’s Goodfellow Air Force Base for unaccompanied children.”
HHS personnel will presumably run the camps along with private security corporations. The military’s role is usually described in terms of logistical support so as to minimize the unconstitutional aspects of this entirely immoral endeavor. Here’s how we described the situation back in September:
In addition to providing the land, military personnel will construct the camps while private agencies will manage the operations. While this simplified explanation of operations seeks to minimize the military’s role, it omits the endless capacities in which the armed forces will surely be facilitating the functioning of these camps such as water, electricity, sewage, and trash. Additional operational problems include the difficulty of housing persons in restricted access bases who legally need access to immigration and civil liberty lawyers, secure areas to discuss their cases, as well as access for advocates, relatives, news media and political activists. Another issue is the lack of state licensing requirements, such as health and building codes, which military locations enable the government to avoid.
Faced with a few stumbling blocks to their plan, including legal rulings and local community resistance, the governmental players are, for the moment, delaying the buildout of these camps. They’re instead opting to exponentially expand HHS’s tent city in Tornillo, Texas, which is near El Paso. Tornillo housed about 400 children this summer. It’s now expected to reach a capacity of nearly 4,000 by the end of the year. There are another 9,000 unaccompanied children currently held at smaller shelters across the country.
MESSAGE TO THE TROOPS: DO NOT COLLABORATE WITH THE ILLEGAL IMMIGRANT DETENTION CAMPS
We need to reach the troops with this simple challenge: Do not collaborate with the illegal immigrant detention camps.
With your help, we’re spending one penny per military service member–$20,000–on a strategic outreach campaign.
The New York Times recently exposed the situation at Tornillo in a September 30, 2018, article, “Migrant Children Moved Under Cover of Darkness to a Texas Tent City.”
In shelters from Kansas to New York, hundreds of migrant children have been roused in the middle of the night, in recent weeks, and loaded onto buses, with backpacks and snacks, for a cross-country journey to their new home: a barren tent city on a sprawling patch of desert in West Texas.
Until now, most undocumented children being held by federal immigration authorities had been housed in private foster homes or shelters, sleeping two or three to a room. They received formal schooling and regular visits with legal representatives assigned to their immigration cases.
But in the rows of sand-colored tents in Tornillo, Texas, children in groups of 20, separated by gender, sleep lined up in bunks. There is no school: The children are given workbooks that they have no obligation to complete. Access to legal services is limited.
In light of Trump’s escalating declarations of mobilizing the military to enforce immigration laws, we believe it is urgent that we take the administration at its word. Our government intends to have the military build these camps, because they plan on detaining tens of thousands more immigrants in the United States – very soon.
As we covered in an earlier article, the published plan to build a camp in Concord, California was abandoned due to swift and strategic community push back. The victory was further accelerated when the the county quickly thereafter agreed to cancel their jail’s contract with ICE. The time to act is now, not after the camps are functioning and brothers and sisters are being shipped there.
“I was sent to a camp at just 5 years old — but even then, they didn’t separate children from families,” stated actor George Takei recently (June 19, 2018 Foreign Policy op-ed), comparing today’s immigrant detention camps to what Japanese American citizens, himself included, endured during World War II. “My family was sent to a racetrack for several weeks to live in a horse stall, but at least we had each other.”
For years, the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones shouted about how the government was preparing to roundup tens of thousands of people into concentration camps. Now that the day nears, it’s apparently okay after all, because they’ve sided with the jailers.
We need military service members to speak up and share with us what’s happening as plans develop. Courage to Resist believes that all military personnel have a moral and legal obligation to refuse to comply with any order that involves collaboration with these immigrant concentration camps.